Pay-worker retention deal expires, renewing concerns about Phoenix backlog

pay system

The federal government has let an agreement expire that gave retention bonuses to workers trying to deal with a mountain of problems created by the Phoenix civil-service pay system, The Canadian Press has learned, raising questions about commitments to eradicate a massive backlog of improper pay files.

The agreement, which provided an incentive package to attract and retain compensation advisers to work at the government pay centre in New Brunswick, had been in place since August 2017 but expired in June.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents the vast majority of federal employees, said it repeatedly requested an extension of the deal but that no action was taken.

Hundreds of compensation advisors were laid off by the previous Conservative government in an effort to save taxpayers money once the Phoenix pay system was launched.

But flaws in the Phoenix system quickly created pay errors for tens of thousands of workers who were overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all, forcing the Trudeau government to scramble to re-hire pay specialists who could deal with a growing stack of complaints.

Those pay-centre employees have been slowly reducing the pay-problem backlog since it reached its peak early this year. But without incentives to keep them on the job, PSAC says it's concerned the backlog will begin to grow again.